Taking Care of Yourself is Part of the Job
The job of becoming the primary caregiver for your aging parent is universally recognized as one of the most difficult transitions we can go through. It’s hard to experience the reversal of parent and child.
The task of caring for an elderly parent can be overwhelming. It’s easy to begin to “hover” around them in an emotional attempt to block any more harm coming to him or her. This is a parenting instinct and one that your dad or mom probably won’t resist because they want to be cared for.
It’s common to share the anxiety of your parent and the fears they may face in the months and years ahead. There is an instinct in caregivers to give 100% of your time, your energy, and your resources to caring for that elderly loved one.
The problem is that you, the caregiver, do have obligations other than caring for your loved one. You likely have a job, a family and your own health to think about. It’s important to keep your eyes open for burnout.
Guilt often times fuels much of the intensity and effort many caregivers offer to help their aging parents. Caregivers may feel guilty that mom or dad are suffering from age-related illness as well as feeling guilty for any time they take for themselves, their own needs or the needs of their own family.
Caregiver burnout can result in a decline in one’s health. This can eventually lead to changes in attitude about the task of caregiving and, in some cases, a nervous breakdown. Symptoms include poor sleep and eating habits, a possible increase in alcohol consumption, and an inability to think about anything other than what mom or dad needs.
If you see these symptoms in someone you know who may be suffering from burnout due to caregiving, reach out. They need to realize that taking care of themselves is part of the task of caring for their aging parents.